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Conservative amendments of Iraqi personal status law draw feminist criticisms

7-11-2017

The Iraqi Parliament last Wednesday voted, in principle, endorsing amendments to the personal status law No. 188 of 1959 decreed by the Iraqi State after the republican revolution on July 14, 1958 (the full text of the amendment is on the following link (http://www.nrttv.com/Ar/Detail.aspx?Jimare=62698). This provoked angry reactions from a number of MPs and activists. Farah Saraj, MP for the district of Mousil, noting the many defects in the amendment, said that while the law in effect has set a 9-year custody period for the mother of a boy after which he has to choose between the two parents, the amended bill forces the mother to hand over her two-year old boy to the father. Furthermore, Saraj explained, in relation to the marriage of underage children (aged between 12-13) which the law sanctifies, the current amendment raises the marriage age from 9 years to 12 years, stressing that the new amendment violates international conventions protecting human rights and the rights of children. Passing the draft will be a disaster sending the country 100 years backward and will consecrate the rules introduced by ISIS in the areas liberated from terrorist control, Saraj warned. For her part, MP Rizan Sheikh Dalir, and in criticism of the amended bill, described it as a replica of the Jaafari Personal Status Law which enforces the Jaafari jurisprudence that clearly fosters child marriage. If applied, this law shall be similar to the laws of ISIS legitimizing marriage of young girls to their members. Majida Jabouri, a democratic activist, in turn explained that the Jaafari law not only discriminated against women but also against men and women based on religion and sect. (Al Akhbar, November 7, 2017)

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